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Obamacare Outreach Will Get Harder - Health Care Edge

Obamacare Outreach Will Get Harder 

By Sophie Novack and Sam Baker

 

THE EASY PART IS OVER: Reaching the uninsured, and convincing them to sign up for health insurance through Obamacare, will only get harder from here, Kaiser Family Foundation President Drew Altman writes in the Wall Street Journal. The people who signed up during the first open-enrollment period were mostly people who really wanted health care or who were easily reachable through the public-relations and grassroots blitz that accompanied the exchanges' debut. But that was the low-hanging fruit, and the people who are still uninsured are harder to reach -- people with language barriers, for example, or immigrants afraid of deportation. That will make the administration's job tougher over the next two years, despite the success of 2014 enrollment.

Top Health Care News

FEW BIG PREMIUM SPIKES: At least so far, those "skyrocketing" Obamacare premiums aren't materializing. Of the roughly 20 states that have released 2015 rate filings, most are seeing average premium hikes in the single digits -- no bigger than the normal annual increases that happened before Obamacare. Some states, particularly those that had rocky enrollment rollouts for 2014, will see double-digit hikes for popular plans, but for now they seem to be the exception -- not the rule. (Sam Baker, National Journal)

FLORIDA'S LARGEST INSURER INDICATES PREMIUM INCREASES MAY COME NEXT YEAR: "We will be under tremendous financial pressure initially given the age, risk profile and high utilization of the new membership," said Florida Blue CEO Patrick Geraghty. "It is far from clear that large enrollment in the marketplace is a financially beneficial place to be." (Phil Galewitz, Kaiser Health News)

 

WHY COST ISN'T AN INDICATOR OF QUALITY IN MEDICINE: Forty-eight percent of Americans think higher quality medical care comes at a higher cost, according to a new Associated Press—NORC Center for Public Research poll, but research shows this is not necessarily so. (Sarah Kliff, Vox)

  • Read the full report here.

Drugs

IS SOVALDI WORTH IT?A pair of new journal articles crystallizes the debate over Sovaldi, the $84,000 hepatitis drug. One study, published over the weekend in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that the drug cured between 75 and 95 percent of patients who took it. Also in JAMA, though, CVS said that coverage for new and expensive hepatitis drugs, including Sovaldi, adds $300 to every American's insurance premium. (Stephanie M. Lee, SFGate)

ALLERGAN TO CUT 13 PERCENT OF WORKFORCE: The Botox maker said it is laying off workers and cutting drug research in an attempt to avoid being acquired and try to convince investors it is able to deliver strong earnings growth alone. (Joseph Walker and Liz Hoffman, Wall Street Journal)

Providers

DOCTORS OPPOSE NEW RECERTIFICATION RULES: Many specialists say the requirement to maintain certifications every two to three years is a waste of time, and will lead to physicians leaving their practices just when the country is facing a doctor shortage. (Roni Caryn Rabin, Kaiser Health News/USA Today)

 

HOW CALIFORNIA IS ADDRESSING THE DOCTOR SHORTAGE: Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to allow students enrolled in accredited medical school programs in the state to become physicians in three years instead of four. (California Healthline)

JOHNS HOPKINS HOSPITAL TO PAY $190 MILLION IN MEDICAL MALPRACTICE SUIT: The hospital will pay $190 million to 7,000 women after it was discovered that a doctor spent years secretly recording female patients during their pelvic exams. The class-action lawsuit was one of the biggest medical malpractice cases of its kind. (Trip Gabriel, New York Times)

Medicare and Medicaid

HOW MEDICARE ADVANTAGE COULD BE MORE EFFICIENT: By making it more like the Obamacare exchanges. (Austin Frakt, New York Times)

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MEDICARE TESTING PAYMENT OPTIONS: Medicare officials are allowing patients in pilot programs to be exempted from the requirement that limits nursing home coverage to seniors admitted to a hospital for at least three days, to see whether changes can reduce costs or maintain them while improving quality of care. The programs are executed under the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovations, created by the Affordable Care Act to develop improvements to Medicare. (Susan Jaffe, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post)

ARKANSAS MAY REQUIRE MEDICAID BENEFICIARIES TO MAKE MONTHLY PAYMENTS: "Supporters say it will help nudge beneficiaries toward becoming more cost-conscious health care consumers. Patient advocates are skeptical, pointing to studies showing that such financial "skin-in-the-game" requirements discourage low-income people from getting care that they need." (Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News)

Implementation

JUDGE DISMISSES SEN. JOHNSON'S OBAMACARE LAWSUIT: A federal judge dismissed Sen. Ron Johnson's challenge to the policy that lawmakers and their staff receive insurance from the health law's exchanges, because the Wisconsin Republican cannot prove he is injured by the provision. Saying the policy hurt his standing with voters didn't count. (Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico)

Veterans Affairs

REPORT: RETALIATION BY SUPERVISORS IS COMMON AT THE VA: VA employees worry they will face retaliation if they voice problems or concerns, according to a report compiled by the Project on Government Oversight, based on comments filed by nearly 800 current and former VA employees and veterans. (Matthew Daly, Associated Press)

Studies

STUDY: DECRIMINALIZATION OF SEX WORK COULD REDUCE HIV: Decriminalizing sex work could cut rates of HIV infection by at least a third in three countries studied -- Canada, India and Kenya -- according to a new study presented at the International AIDS Conference Tuesday. (Caelainn Hogan, Washington Post)

STUDY: GENETIC MAPPING SHEDS LIGHT ON SCHIZOPHRENIA: Scientists have linked 128 genes to the risk of developing Schizophrenia, according to a study published in Nature. (Seth Borenstein, Associated Press)

STRESS IS DELICIOUS:When we stress-eat, we usually eat sugary foods that will ultimately make our mood even worse. It's a vicious cycle. (The Advisory Board Company)

Happening Today

Centers for Disease Control Director Tom Frieden will address concerns about MERS and a range of health issues as a National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon at 12:30 p.m.

Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on the nomination of Robert McDonald as the next VA Secretary at 2 p.m.

House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing on "21st Century Cures: Examining Barriers to Ongoing Evidence Development and Communication" at 3 p.m.

House Veterans' Affairs hearing on "VA's Longstanding Information Security Weaknesses are Increasing Patient Wait Times and Allowing Extensive Data Manipulation" at 7:30 p.m.

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Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Health Care Edge is one of my top resources."

Meghan, Associate Specialist

Great news in short form along with much needed humor."

Patrick, President of private healthcare consulting firm

Informative and help[s] me stay on track. "

Director of Scientific Affairs, Non-profit medicial society

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